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How to Find a 3X (Part 1)

In the last post, you learned what exactly a fuel dump 3X is. In this post, you'll see the general idea of trying to find a fuel dump on your own. Don't be discouraged if you can't find one immediately on your own, this site is here to help you!

As a refresher, the goal of a fuel dump is to reduce the "YQ" or fuel surcharge on an itinerary. You do this by combining your desired flight with a 3rd flight, the "3X," which by whatever black magic of the airline interline agreements causes the fuel surcharge to be collected by the new added carrier. Hopefully the new fuel surcharge will be lower (or nonexistent!) hence saving you money despite adding on a 3rd flight to your itinerary. Note that you don't have to fly the 3rd flight if you don't want to. That is why it is a 3X; you are striking the 3rd flight from your itinerary.

Based on this, finding a working fuel dump 3X involves two steps. The first is to find a candidate round trip itinerary. You want these flights to have an abnormally low base fare with an abnormally high fuel surcharge/"YQ". That way, when you "cut the fat" of the fuel surcharge with a 3X you are more likely to get big savings. Realize that if the fuel surcharge is too low to begin with then even if you cut it completely the base fare of the 3X will probably be more expensive. In this post I'll show you an example of a good candidate round trip itinerary.

Now enough talk, let me actually show you what I'm talking about!

The above screenshot is from matrix.itasoftware.com. In case you didn't know, ITA Matrix (now owned by Google) is the flight search technology that powers many popular OTAs (Online Travel Agents) such as hipmunk.com, kayak.com and orbitz.com. I'm showing a screenshot from ITA Matrix because unlike other OTAs, ITA Matrix shows a detailed breakdown of the taxes and fees of a given itinerary, most importantly including the YQ fuel surcharge. Here we see the base fare is quite low, at only 75 euros for each leg. Additionally, the TAP Portugal YQ fuel surcharge is a whopping €206! This is more than 40% of the entire ticket price. Wouldn't it be nice if this could be reduced...

A good candidate round trip itinerary. The base fares are very low and the fuel surcharge is very high.

A good candidate round trip itinerary. The base fares are very low and the fuel surcharge is very high.

The above screenshot is a 2009 fuel dump of this exact route. As we can see, despite adding a new 3rd flight (JFK to BWI on AA), the total price has dropped substantially, from €491 to €217. Note that this dump no longer works. (For working dumps please fill out the contact form below!) Thus while the numbers don't precisely correspond it is illustrative of what kind of base fare & fuel surcharge you should be looking for.

At this point you are probably wondering how the heck we decided to add an American Airlines flight from JFK to BWI. That is the process of actually finding the 3X, which will be reviewed in Part 2 of this series!

Again, as a reminder if you want to find your first real live working today fuel dump please fill out the contact form below! A member of our team will get back to you within 24 hours.

Fuel Dumping for Dummies

Why are international flights so expensive?! That was the question I asked myself 3 years ago as I searched for a flight from New Jersey to New Delhi. Little did I know, that this small question would lead me down such a deep rabbit hole that when I came out the other side I was never the same again… In this blog post I plan to share just a small fraction of the incredible SNAFU that is the modern day airline industry.

This complexity isn’t without its perks, however. Airlines have so many “fires” to put out on a daily basis that savvy fliers can take advantage of certain loopholes that airlines don’t have the manpower to manage. What loopholes, you ask? Fuel dumping! A tactic that expert fliers all over the world have capitalized on (read: used to save hundreds of dollars on each international flight) for years, fuel dumping is a method of combining flights to eliminate certain fees within plane ticket costs.

BUT FIRST, THE BASICS:

The first thing to understand is what charges comprise the cost of a plane ticket. If you don’t already know, ITA Matrix is an awesome tool for this.

ITA Matrix (matrix.itasoftware.com) screenshot of a EWR to DEL roundtrip itinerary. ITA Matrix is one of the only travel search engines to show such a detailed price breakdown

ITA Matrix (matrix.itasoftware.com) screenshot of a EWR to DEL roundtrip itinerary. ITA Matrix is one of the only travel search engines to show such a detailed price breakdown

Some line items to note are:

  1. Base Fare: The price of your flight without other taxes and fees ($242 each way in the example above)
  2. YR (sometimes called YQ): This is the fuel surcharge. Although airlines would have fliers believe that this charge covers the cost of fuel and that rising fuel surcharges reflect fluctuating fuel prices, this isn’t always the case. The fuel surcharge, some speculate, is a way for airlines to change the prices of flights on a whim.
  3. Other Taxes and Fees: These are pretty self-explanatory charges imposed by respective countries and their governments/airports. Since they’re insignificant in comparison to the base fare and YR/YQ, it isn’t really worth the trouble contesting the charges.

With this price breakdown in mind, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just do away with the pesky (and expensive!) fuel surcharge? With fuel dumping, you can!

FUEL DUMPING

There are three components of a fuel dump:

  1. Base fare

  2. YR (aka YQ)

  3. 3X

We’ve already discussed what the base fare and YR are, but what is this 3X?

A 3X, or third strike, is a flight that you tack onto the end of your itinerary that you don’t actually fly. The 3X eliminates the YR/YQ (by some airline oversight), so if you find a 3X cheaper than the YR/YQ, you save the difference between the two. Score!

While the 3X does need to be cheaper than the YR/YQ you’re looking to dump, the 3X doesn’t necessarily have to originate from your actual destination. That is, if you were flying from Newark to New Delhi roundtrip, your 3X would not have to originate from Newark to work. Your 3X could be from Seoul to Bangkok. Admittedly, it’s a little suspicious to have such an itinerary, but it’s up to you to come up with a reason for the gap in your travel plans (your company might be taking care of your flight to Seoul, for instance).

LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS (and ruin fuel dumping for everyone!)

Clever as you might feel after finding your first fuel dump, don’t make a big fuss about it! There’s a reason why FlyerTalk forums are reserved for the people who have paid their due diligence in researching and finding 3Xs. While a publicly accessible fuel dump 3X route would bring the benefits of fuel dumping to more people, it places the fuel dump in jeopardy. If hundreds of people start purchasing tickets for a flight that typically carries 50 passengers, airlines might realize their mistake, close that loophole and ruin the fuel dump. In short, we have a real problem with the guy who spills the beans about a fuel dump to the rest of the world. Don’t be that guy!!

Hopefully by now you have a clearer understanding of what airlines charge you for when you purchase a plane ticket and how you can circumvent some of those charges!

STAY TUNED to learn how to find your own 3X!